Says no regret over grazing law
By Peter Duru
Makurdi — Governor Samuel Ortom of Benue State said, yesterday, that the state has lost over N400 billion worth of property to renewed militant herdsmen attacks on communities in the state since 2015.
The governor, who made this known in Makurdi while assessing the challenges and achievements of his administration in the past three years, explained that the estimate was arrived at following preliminary report of assessment of damage caused by the crisis, stressing that the loss was much and difficult to recover from.
He said: “Benue State Open Grazing Prohibition and Ranches Establishment Law 2017 was the people’s legislation and no amount of intimidation and blackmail would make them repeal it.
“For me, I have no regret whatsoever concerning the enactment and implementation of the law. Why should I have any regret doing the will of my people? They trusted me and gave me their votes and I will not betray what they want. I’m doing what they want and I’ve no regrets.”
He commended his colleagues from Ekiti, Taraba and Abia states for keying into the ranching law, saying it was the right way to go.
Ortom appealed to Nigerians with a better alternative to bring it on the table to find a lasting solution to farmers and herdsmen crisis in the country.
Urges Defence Minister to apologise to Nigerians
He said: “I also challenge the Defence Minister, Dan-Masur Ali to come out and tell Nigerians why there are killings in Zamfara, his home state, and other states of Nigeria like Kaduna, Adamawa, Plateau, Enugu, Kogi, among others, where there are no anti-open grazing law.
“I am waiting for the minister to come out and apologise to Nigerians over his recent comments, calling for the suspension of the law which is blamed for the killings in the country.”
Governor Ortom said he came in with a clear vision to industrialise the state but lamented that the herdsmen crisis had taken an enormous toll on his administration with 18 of the 23 local government areas in the state currently under siege.
He, however, noted that partnership with development partners, donor agencies, among others, through payment of counterpart funds had yielded great results for the state in the areas of education, health and water supply, adding that the result would have been wonderful with guaranteed security.
Ortom also stated that arrangements were being made to pay arrears of salaries and pensions to workers both at the state and local government levels who, he noted, were owed for some months last year.